Did a powerful coach groom his talented young runner for sex?
The problem at the heart of today's story an ugly one but it's not particularly unique. A grown man in a position of power allegedly uses that power to groom a young woman. I as a friend and as a partner and finally for a sexual relationship if there's one thing the past few years of these stories should have taught us. It's that this scenario happens absolutely everywhere. But what happens when the story goes public? That varies wildly depending on the world in which it happens in large companies and big industries by now there is a process or at least there should be even in smaller companies. There's usually a structure of some sort in place in the tiny insular world of Canadian long distance running though there's not much of that to speak of and the allegations that landed in a national newspaper almost two weeks ago have exposed just how badly some oversight is needed in these small communities almost two decades ago now a promising young woman met a notable coach and the story went the way these stories sometimes go and nobody talked nothing was done until it hit the papers and now at tiny world of Canadian long distance running has been blown wide open and nobody knows what happens now I'm Jordan Heathrow. This is the big story Michael. Dale is a freelance journalist for this particular investigation. He worked with the globe in Mail. Michael Hi how are you doing? I'm doing well. You performed quite a deep dive on a problem that I don't think a lot of people even knew was on anybody's radar. Why don't you start by telling us who's Meghan Brown certainly Megan Brown? Actually if if you're a fan of track and field and Canada you may remember the name because she was a bright star Ten fifteen years ago. was better apex or career And she started off as a high school genome. She ran very briefly with a club called. Speed River Track and Field Club in wealth and also briefly with the University of wealth before moving on to the University of Toronto. She had some success ultimately she didn't become an Olympian or the next great Canadian distance runner And my investigation in part unearth. Y happened or why it didn't happen in the same vein than on just so we have the two characters upfront. Who is Dave Scott? Thomas Dave Scott. Thomas is or was until very recently arguably the most powerful individual and track and field in Canada. He was a coach at the University of wealth which is a powerhouse program and track and field only rivaled with US schools and he also had a speed river track and Field Club in wealth which had a number of Olympians that ran Ran With him at the club over the years and developed an unimaginable amount of talent there and he was a national team coach so he coached And the two thousand Sixteen Olympics as well so in a relatively small world in this industry in Canada he was one of the bigger names. He was an outsized figure for sure. I mean I one coach said to me. He sort of like a Scotty. Bowman type figure. He's a an empire builder on a lot of different levels But I would argue that within the cloistered world of of Canadian track and field and distance running. He was even much more powerful than that. So let's start by going back to the beginning and tell me how Meghan Brown Matt Dave Scott Thomas. It all started in the fall of two thousand and one when. Megan was a sixteen year old kid and she was very new to running. Suliman wearing a couple of years. Her Mom had died When she was a teenager and she discovered running after her mother's death in part a coping mechanism and she won the junior race at the Ontario Cross country. Championships that the high school championships which is a pretty incredible feat for someone running and Dieskau. Thomas saw her. That meet identified her as the up and coming feed on that she was. I suppose luckily for him. She happened to be a local kid. She was from the farm community outside of wealth area so he in the weeks after her win went to her high school and recruited her there at that time when she is sixteen and he's recruiting her. How big a deal was he. Then would have been like being recruited by Scotty Bowman at that time Not Quite but he was definitely an up and coming force certainly locally it would be a big deal Guelleh was At the university level was developing as a top flight school and his program that was sort of attached to the school. The Speed River Track and Field Club was becoming a known commodity in the running scene and he was attracting some talent but this was at the very beginning the building stages and he's a very charismatic figure. As well he you know. He offered her an opportunity in a situation for her to grow her talent. And obviously it was you know in the community so she and her father who is a a widower. The time trusted Mr Scott Thomas to take care of their daughter. She spoke to you in a lot of depth for this story. What does she say about their relationship? Their working relationship in the early days. I think it was Positive and then it became very intense. Very quickly They develop you mean by intense while the very quickly started spending a lot of time together and time not just in terms of after school when he's coaching around the track but even after that and according to many of the athletes that I spoke with that were present at that time while she was still a high school kid training at speed river they would disappear off in the car they will go for drives And as Megan told me later in our interviews He would take her for tea and they would spend long periods of time talking about a started off talking about running and then it very quickly diverged from that talking about each of their emotional states in his as much as hers and then e. Mail started Phone calls this is at the during the early days of the cell phone right so megan actually had a phone was kind of Sarab tissue going out and you know are up in her room or out on the road talking to Dave Scott Thomas while he was staying late at his office in the evenings. What do we know about what the people around this relationship thought about it? so far you've described stuff that I think would raise people's eyebrows but Perhaps not crossing particular line. The first problem is is that there was an incredible amount of blind trust given a day. Scott Thomas he started the program at the University of wealth it was nothing program by all accounts And he built it from nothing to quite something and later on to an incredible program And because of that he had unilateral power. It wasn't a whole lot of checks and balances going on university and put in place and parents trusted him as well He's sort of report himself to be a family man. He has daughters. He was married guy in his late thirties at the time. So there was a lot of trust built in their students Athletes in the in the club and athletes at the university Told me that they definitely. They started to gossip. They they definitely saw something going on but they're kids. They're they're teenagers. They're eighteen. Nineteen twenty years old others. A lot of jealousy actually Many many athletes told me former athlete told me that they felt a great deal of Chelsea towards Megan because she was occupying all of all of their coaches time. Right but the thing is is that Dave. Thomas gave her that time that attention so it was definitely a two way street. That was going on. Where did that lead in the fall of two thousand two? The speed river team led by Dave. Scott Thomas went in an RV and drove out to Moncton for The National Cross Country Championships. A Megan was the only teenage girl in the group who was a lot of like university students that were going out and you know it was a really fun time for her. She was very excited. This is the first big trip for our She's a pretty naive kid as well and she ended up winning that meet. She won that the national junior title. Which is a huge deal and meant that you'd be going to a world championships the CA- following year and that night after winning title instead of going out with friends her teammates and celebrating She went on a drive with Scott Thomas in that. Rv She alleges and That's when he approached her of with the idea of a relationship he won't. He was kind of probing her for how she felt about him emotionally and sexually as well and shortly after that a sexual relationship again between the two of them and she was seventeen years old. He was thirty eight so the topic. At least of the relationship is broached right after her biggest victory so far and and what should have been the first of of many. What happens the weeks after that according to Meghan Will shortly after that after they come back from the National Championships in Moncton Her and Mr Scott. Thomas actually go for a trip alone in his car. T. FROM WEALTH TO TORONTO. A day trip they went to the the ROM. The Ryland Area Museum Museum and in the exhibit somewhere He kisses her and then later on that evening they drive back to wealth they go to The Arboretum which is large forested area owned by the university where he actually trained as athletes. And that's where they they had Megan's first sexual encounter in her life in his car and She says that she felt it was an ultimatum. that he gave her before they had sex. Which was that either heavy relate sexual relationship with me or You're going to lose everything that we built. Of course she chose the former. I think she realizes now that consent was not possible at that point in her life based on her age based on the the power dynamic that existed between the two of them So from there on in there was a A two year secret sexual relationship That they maintained until she was a Shortly after she joined the University of Wealth As a student athlete. How does that kind of thing happen? And I think this sounds like kind of a stupid question because we now hear about this kind of thing happening often but how does something like that happen? Within a relationship that has so many power dynamics involved and nobody around it does anything. I mean you mentioned. They might not have known about the romantic aspect of the relationship that you mentioned that her teammates were certainly aware. Was anybody else involved with the club or the university aware that this was going on. I mean this is a debate. That's kind of turned the running community in Canada. Too Right now which is Those that were a part of the University of Guel for Speed River Track and Field Club at that time. Either as coaches or athletes.